BOAT TEST: NOBLE 7.5M CENTRE-CAB
Familiar with Noble Boats’ history as a local boatbuilder and the company’s recent move to manufacture its boats in China, Warren “The Woz” Steptoe makes a closer than usual inspection of Noble’s new 7.5m centre-cab.
TEST: NOBLE 7.5m CENTRE-CAB
In recent years I've tested (and sometimes fished from) a variety of boats featuring the unique "Deep Vee" hull design utilised by the subject of this article, the Noble Boats International 7.5m centre-cabin. These craft have ranged from a 5m outboard-powered barra boat up to a 7.4m diesel sterndrive, with a cluster of 5.8m to 6.8m boats between them in centre-console, centre-cabin and cuddy-cabin configurations.
They all impressed, leaving me with the opinion that Noble's Deep Vee hull is a significant step forward from the average plate-aluminium fishing boat in one very important respect. By combining a 24° deadrise angle at the transom with wide "W"-shaped double chines, the design aims to deliver a soft ride across rough water while affording good stability at rest for fishing - and to a large extent it succeeds. The plate-aluminium Deep Vee concept used by Noble in this 7.5m boat isn't new, but it has been developed (and considerably refined) by several boatbuilders over the years.
Noble Boats became Noble Boats International some time ago now, with production moving offshore to the Tianjin shipyards in the Pearl River Delta region of China, near Hong Kong. I mention this for two reasons. Firstly, as an Aussie design that's now built in China (although still fitted out here in Australia), I was keen to see if Noble's high standard of workmanship was being maintained. Thankfully it was. Secondly, Noble's boats have always been "fisho friendly" as they are built and refined by people who actually fish. After getting to grips with this boat, it appears the new management, thankfully, was smart enough to leave things well alone in this respect.
INTO THE ROUGH
I was actually a little excited to find myself in Coffs Harbour to test this 7.5m Noble centre-cabin. The test model belonged to a local couple, Craig and Michelle Cooper, who'd invested in it so in order to enjoy the great offshore fishing opportunities that abound on NSW's sub-tropical coast. The couple's fishing interests cross the spectrum from baitfishing for snapper and other reefies to chasing the big Spaniards for which Coffs is famous; plus of course the annual run of billfish that call Coffs home for several months each year.
Unfortunately our timetable didn't allow for any fishing, but after testing and fishing from so many Noble boats I was keen to see how the design worked in an outboard-powered boat this big. The diesel version I'd tested previously was, shall we say, less than exciting in terms of performance. However, with 300 of Evinrude's finest ponies pushing Craig and Michelle's pride and joy across the briny, the performance on offer here certainly wasn't lacking.
The E-TEC outboard utilised an Evinrude I-Command data supply, which interfaced with a Lowrance HDS 10M navigation system to display engine information amongst the maps and stuff - it also registered a top speed of over 37kts (68.4kmh) in calm water just out of the harbour.
However, that calm water didn't last too long and we soon encountered a reality check in the form of a 20-knot northerly. Craig eased back to a sane 4000rpm from the 5800rpm we'd been running at WOT, and we cruised at around 24kts (44.5kmh) until we emerged from the shelter of those rocky islets just off the Coffs boat harbour. Once on completely open water the sea wasn't a pretty sight, the swell forcing us to back down to barely planing speeds, allowing the big Noble to show us just how well this hull works in the sort of weather in which offshore fishos often find themselves embroiled.
With fishing off the agenda we were forced to run several kays south to tuck behind a prominent headland, in search of water calm enough for TrailerBoat's photoshoot. Running at 10 to 15kts (18.4 to 27.8kmh) the hull was gently going bump, bump, bump across a substantial chop. More importantly, when it came time to return upwind, it gently went bump, bump, bump - even though we were beating into the steep sides of sizeable wind waves by that stage.
Note the use of the word "gently" there - these conditions gave a perfect demonstration of how well a Deep Vee hull works, or at least how well it can work when driven appropriately in fairly unfriendly conditions. Believe me, any other plate-aluminium hull - and quite a few 'glass ones - would have been shaking our fillings loose big time, especially when travelling back to the ramp into that wind.
DESIGN AND LAYOUT
With the photoshoot out of the way and back in sheltered water, I took the opportunity to go over the boat's interior. In a hull this size the centre-cabin configuration works particularly well. Because the deck around the cabin is high set it leaves the bunk beneath in the cabin free to extend to the full beam, with plenty of room.
This boat's fitout was fairly basic, with no polished timber, but the paint had been done nicely and the finish in general was entirely practical for a fishing boat. I noted too the use of lovely Kiwi BEP electrical hardware, along with a Simrad fishfinder and the previously mentioned Lowrance gear, so there's certainly been no compromise in terms of quality.
As fishing layouts go this 7.5m Noble is almost faultless. There's excellent leg support around the cockpit periphery and the deck beside the cabin is sensibly proportioned for secure forward access in less-than-perfect conditions. The cockpit's deck selfdrains through a large central scupper. At 7.5m our test boat proved big enough to carry its deck high enough to prevent any inboard flow of water through the scupper.
Central in the cockpit is a large underdeck (flooding) fishwell. This is sensibly fitted with a bung to keep the water it can hold at bay, unless needed. To port in the aft bulkhead is the requisite livewell, which is matched on the starboard side with a transom door. The central transom area is taken up with the usual workbench.
Generally speaking, I can happily report that all is well with this boat when it comes to the fishing department.
One aspect that really impressed was the deck material used in Craig and Michelle's boat. I don't know how it's applied, but the end result is a seamless, semi-soft, underfoot non-slip finish that's both attractive and easy to clean.
Good one, Noble! The company has shown enough common sense to leave the many impressive qualities of these boats alone (including the industry-leading roughwater ride), while continuing to deliver a well-built and
On the plane...
If only every plate tinnie rode this well!
Generally excellent and completely fishing-friendly layout
Dragging the chain...
Nothing to complain about
Specifications: Noble Boats International 7.5m centre-cab
Price as tested: $145,000
Options fitted: Minn Kota trim tabs, Simrad CX44 fishfinder, Lowrance HDS 10M mapping GPS, decking (check with Noble Boats for availability), Lowrance LVR-250 VHF radio
Priced from: $98,000
Type: Centre-cabin offshore fishing boat
Length (LOA): 7.8m
Weight (hull): Approx. 940kg
Fuel: 240lt plus 180lt standard extra tank
Min. HP: 150
Max HP: 300
Make/model: Evinrude E-TEC E300
Type: Direct-injected V6 two-stroke
Rated HP: 300
Gearbox ratio: 1.85:1
Propeller: BRP Viper 19in pitch
SUPPLIED & MANUFACTURED BY
Noble Boats International
PO Box 3279
Putney, NSW, 2112
Tel: 0435 837 538
Originally published in TrailerBoat 265.
Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.